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Friday, October 31, 2014

Poor Teeth and Discrimination

Poor teeth, I knew, beget not just shame but more poorness: people with bad teeth have a harder time getting jobs and other opportunities. People without jobs are poor. Poor people can’t access dentistry – and so goes the cycle.
... Privileged America, ever striving for organic purity, judges harshly the mouths that chew orange Doritos, drink yellow Mountain Dew, breathe with a sawdust rattle, carry a lower lip’s worth of brown chaw, use dirty words and bad grammar. ...
... Friends who know my background sometimes kid me when I’m drunk and misconjugate a verb or slip into a drawl, or when, thoroughly sober, I reveal a gross blind spot in the realm of book-learning (if, say, the question involves whatever one learns in sixth grade, most of which I spent playing in red dirt outside a two-room schoolhouse near the Oklahoma state line). They smile at the pleasure I take in scoring solid furniture from yard sales or, once, for expressing delight over a tiny cast-iron skillet, a miniature version of the pan my grandma once used to fight a drunken stepfather off her mother. I enjoy the kidding and feel appreciated when they recognise the true clich├ęs that weave my story. 
But here’s the thing: wealthy people use cast-iron skillets and bad grammar, too. It’s just not their narrative and thus passes without remark. I’ve observed fellow journalists, the same ones who made trailer-park tornado survivors famous for a loose grip on the past participle, edit dumb-sounding quotes by city commissioners to suit the speaker’s stature.  ...
... the liberal proponents of Occupy Wall Street are often the same people who think Southerners are inbred and Walmart shoppers slovenly miscreants with no social awareness.

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